The Biggest Mistake in Socializing Puppies
Have you heard that your dog should meet 100 people and 100 dogs in 100 days? Nothing could be more inaccurate and potentially more harmful. It is true that Fido pup needs to meet people and dogs however overexposure could lead to an over socialized puppy with further problems down the road. To begin, this all depends upon the dog. Some dogs are naturally friendly and some, not so much. Exposing your dog to a small amount of people is
much better than large scale especially if it is causing fear and discomfort. Take the time to observe, watch, and listen to your dog's signals. Is he comfortable? Is he trembling? Does he try to escape? Is his tail tucked? Is his back arched? Is he having fun? Too much too fast can backfire.
Instead of quantity, think of quality. Also, exposure to people and other dogs is only one aspect of socialization. Consider other avenues such as different surfaces, different positions (think standing on a chair), different animals, different places, and different sounds, and different experiences. A puppy needs to hear a baby cry but not necessarily interact with that baby. A puppy needs to see someone walking with a cane but not necessarily interact with that person. A puppy needs to see people jogging, biking, skate boarding, boating, driving, sitting in a rocking chair, fishing, playing tennis but necessarily interact with those people. Instead of the goal being 100 people and dogs every day, how about two to five new experiences every day and listen to your dog to see if he can handle more or if that was sufficient for the day. Always start from a distance and work closer slowly with lots of positive reinforcement. Use games and tricks in the midst of potentially frightening situations. An important note is that socialization does not end at 16 weeks of age. It is lifelong as is training.